Red Fort incident: Delhi court sends actor-activist Deep Sidhu to 7-day police custody

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New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) A Delhi court Tuesday sent actor-activist Deep Sidhu to 7-day police custody in connection with the Red Fort violence on the Republic Day during farmers'' tractor parade against the Centre's three new agri laws.

Metropolitan Magistrate Prigya Gupta sent Sidhu to custody after the police alleged he was one of the main instigators of the violent incidents at the Red Fort.

The police sought his custody for 10 days saying there are videos where Sidhu can be allegedly seen present at the site of the incident and his interrogation was required to identify and arrest other accused persons.

'He was instigating the crowd. He was also one of the main rioters. Several social media accounts need to be searched to identify the co-conspirators. Also his permanent address is given as Nagpur but several places need to be visited in Punjab and Haryana to unearth further details,' the investigating officer alleged.

He further alleged that Sidhu can be seen in videos entering the Red Fort with his supporters and was present there when the flag was hoisted.

'He can be seen coming out with the person who hoisted the flag and congratulating him. He came out and gave speeches in loud hailers and provoked the crowd there. He was the main instigator. He instigated the crowd due to which violence occured. Several policemen were injured in the violence,' police alleged.

Sidhu's counsel said since the police already have the videos and CCTV footage, there was nothing to be recovered from the accused and hence 10 days remand was not necessary.

To this, the judge asked the investigating officer (IO) to interrogate Sidhu in the courtroom and decide for how long they required custody and for what reasons.

After about half an hour, the IO told the court the police were seeking 10 days remand as the mobile and laptop which were allegedly used to post the videos on social media were to be recovered.

He further claimed the police also had to visit Mumbai and other places and the accused needed to be confronted with the videos to identify other rioters.

He alleged that Sidhu was absconding and evading arrest. The police further alleged that Sidhu can be seen among the rioters in the videos. 'His (Sidhu's) interrogation has revealed that he had visited 10 cities in Punjab. He had uploaded the videos on social media from unsourced mobile phones which needed to be recovered. He was absconding. His supporters first breached the barricades and diverted the designated route of the parade on Sidhu's call. The other accused persons were yet to be identified and arrested.' 'The accused used a vehicle to abscond and someone helped him. They are yet to be identified. Also he used three mobile phones and several SIMs registered under different names while he was evading arrest,' police alleged.

Sidhu's counsel, however, claimed he had nothing to do with the violence and was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

'Sidhu is cooperating and not running away. He was not evading the process. He happens to be at the wrong time at the wrong place. He was not aware of the allegations against him and only came to know about it through print media.

'What more are they going to recover. The police are only seeking such a long period of remand to pressurise him. The accused has no travel history to Mumbai after January 26,' his counsel alleged.

Sidhu has been arrested for several offences under the Indian Penal Code including rioting (147 and 148), unlawful assembly (149), attempt to murder (120-B), criminal conspiracy (120-B), assaulting or obstructing public servant (152), dacoity (395), culpable homicide (308) and disobedience to order promulgated by public servant (188).

He has also been arrested under sections of the Arms Act, Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act and the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act.

The police had announced a cash reward of Rs 1 lakh for information leading to Sidhu''s arrest.

Tens of thousands of farmers broke barriers to storm the national capital on January 26, their tractor parade to highlight their demands dissolving into unprecedented scenes of anarchy as they fought with police, overturned vehicles and delivered a national insult hoisting a religious flag from the ramparts of the Red Fort, a privilege reserved for India's tricolour.

Thousands of protesting farmers who reached ITO from the Ghazipur border clashed with police. Many of them driving tractors reached the Red Fort and entered the monument, where the religious flag was also hoisted. Over 500 police personnel were injured and one protestor died.

In the FIR registered in connection with the Red Fort violence, police said two magazines with 20 live cartridges were snatched from two constables by protestors who also damaged vehicles and robbed anti-riot gear. PTI URD RKS RKS